Hi guys! Here are some snapshots from the IVP on Jan 18th 2015.
This is first attempt with my new camera trying to shoot a sports event. I promise I will get better!
Hi guys! Here are some snapshots from the IVP on Jan 18th 2015.
This is first attempt with my new camera trying to shoot a sports event. I promise I will get better!
It’s a brand new year, and I haven’t had time to do a blog post. Been busy meeting people, and cleaning up my room.
Do expect me to upload more photos here as I have gotten a new toy to play with!
A brand new Olympus Pen Lite E-PL6 DSLR camera at a bargain price from the Megatex Electronics Fair 2014!
Also do expect a blog post on the life lessons I have learnt thus far.
And last but not least, as I have been reading heavily on the book of Ecclesiastes from the Bible, I have been contemplating to do a ‘Singlish’ translation of that book just for the laughs as well as to reflect the insights I had in a more familiar layman Singaporean context. Finally I leave you all this verse to meditate upon 🙂
“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”.
As I fell sick the past few days, I didn’t really have the mood to do a post. Here it is now 🙂
This post will deal with how to have a breakthrough in whatever area of life and it is gonna revolve around how I got started learning swimming.
I only started swimming when I was 23, that’s kinda late right? I had always wanted to learn swimming since I started frequenting OCC’s swimming pool with my childhood friend, Zhenyuan. However, I guess my parents were kind of afraid I would drown or something. Hence, I was not given the chance to learn even though I wanted to and asked to be placed in my school’s swimming program.
So at the age of 23, while waiting for my enrollment into university and still bumming around, figuring out what on earth I am going to do for the rest of my rest of my life, I decided that I wanted to learn swimming, but I didn’t want to spend money on any courses. So I would go to the nearby SAFRA and try to swim. Sometimes, I would also call my church friend, Bun Bun, out for a swim if he was free. All I knew of swimming then was frog style which my dad tried to teach me, but I didn’t quite get it. Each and every time I would go to the DEEP pool but stick very close to the wall. It was really daunting at first as I kept getting water into my nose, drinking water and panicking when there were children or other swimmers next to the wall. But eventually, I found my movement in the water getting more refined and I was not struggling as much. That’s when I discovered that hey, actually I can swim.
Time passed, I enrolled into SIM and was looking to join a CCA. So I thought maybe I should join the SIM’s Swimming & Lifesaving Club (SIM SLC).
That’s when my swimming really improved. In a way, they psycho’ed / scammed me into signing up for Bronze Medallion lifesaving (lifeguard) course, telling me it was easy and I can learn along the way.
In my second training, my coach, Michael, decided to make everyone swim freestyle with heads up 100m. In my mind, I was panicking because I did not know how to swim freestyle, what if I drown etc? And then to make it worse, everyone else took the side lane, leaving only the middle lane to me (fortunately, the lanes were divided by lane ropes). Since I already signed up for this course (and paid $250), I didn’t want to lose face, so I thought I will look at how the rest swim and try to imitate them, and if I cannot, I will grab onto the lane ropes to save myself. So when it came down to it, I looked at how the person in front of me was swimming and tried to copy his movement. That’s when I found out that actually I can swim this way and completed one lap swimming this way. On my return lap back, I was getting tired so I just held on to the lane ropes when I needed to rest. That’s when I found out I could tread water (although I wasn’t very good at it). My water confidence grew, I had a breakthrough.
To improve my swimming, my coach, Michael, decided to give me extra trainings on Wednesdays. When I was free, I would go google articles and videos on swimming so I could improve.
In the subsequent trainings, the training location changed to the United World College, SEA, Dover Campus. To my surprise, the pool was 3.8m deep at the deep end, with only 1 shallow end. Hence, when I had do swimming sets in that pool, I would always get anxious when I was swimming towards the deep end. I was made to dive down that 3.8m depth and touch the bottom. As a beginner, it was frightening to me. But over time, I found my fear of the deep pool diminishing. I could hold my breath longer, and I could swim for longer distances without getting too tired – I had a breakthrough.
So I joined SLC for more events – eg. NTU mass swim 2012. Everyone wanted to jump off the diving platform into the diving pool (which was about 3 stories high). For me, I was afraid of heights, but because I didn’t want to be the odd one out, I joined in. As I was climbing the stairs up to the diving block like a lamb led to the slaughter, I kept muttering over and over this verse from the Bible.
‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’
Then I reached the top, I closed my eyes, refusing to look down, and stepped off the diving block. I DID NOT DIE like I thought I would. I did it and thought this is fun actually. I had another breakthrough.
Eventually I passed my Bronze Medallion. I even joined SLC for a training camp in 2013 and swam out to sea for the first time in my life. It sure was frightening to me, the thought of me being washed away by the currents, but I had a sense of achievement when I looked back and think, ‘hey, I did it!’.
So what I am trying to say here. In order to get that breakthrough that you so desire, sometimes what you really need is a desire and to grow some balls (courage), and actually go out and do it. I have never seen myself as a courageous person, but I am glad I joined swimming & lifesaving as I have grown to be stronger and more confident as a person 🙂
“Is my car big?”
“Study so hard for what?”
“hahahaha joking la, we need more people like you so I can earn more money”
Those were the exact words from the mouth of an ex-classmate who offered me a ride home from another classmate’s wedding. I’m not kidding, this really happened, only after I got on his car and in the middle of the road he just said that. Back then, he used to be at the bottom of the class, and always sleeping in class! And me? I was the top of my class. Those words stung my heart deeply. So now he’s a towkay with a big car and I am a salaried employee? Big deal? You can bet I will never accept a ride in his car again, I got my own pride too.
This got me thinking – what is success? Big car? Big house? Sterling academic achievements? High Flyer in a Fortune 500 company?
Here’s my take on what is success.
1) You multiply your God-given talents
Since I’m Christian, I will illustrate from the New Testament the Parable of the Talents by Jesus.
There were 3 servants to whom their master entrusted talents to them. To one, he gave 5, another he gave 2, and to the last one, he gave 1 talent. Here’s what the servants did. The servant with 5 talents worked his talents and produced 5 more talents, making it a total of 1o talents. The one with 2 talents did the same and produced 2 more talents, a total of 4. However, the servant with only 1 talent did not follow suit. He buried his talent.
Here’s what the master had to say when he returned. To the servant with 10 talents and the servant with 4 talents, he said ’Well done, good and faithful servant! Because you have been faithful over little, I will put you in charge of much more! Come enter into the joy of your master’.
With the servant who buried his only 1 talent, the master was angry. The servant’s excuse was that he was afraid because the master was a hard man. The master said to that servant, ’You wicked and lazy servant! Take this talent from him and give it to the one with 10 talents!’
The master represents God, and the servants, us humans. Sounds unfair? But it is a hard truth. In this world, those who are successful work hard at their talents, while those who are lazy will find that whatever talent they even have withers away.
My takeaway? Figure out what is your talent and be faithful in multiplying your talents. Faithful Labor Pays Off. Don’t be afraid of what others will say. Someone once said this, ”Don’t compare your chapter 1 with someone’s else chapter 20” and I think it’s so true! I will talk more about this later in my next post “Breakthrough Moment”. Success is when you can figure out your talents and use it to bless others, while finding fulfillment in expressing your talents.
2) You have fulfilling relationships
What’s life if you have no one to share it with? If all you have is a big house, big car and all the trappings of the material world, then you are not successful.
“I turned my head and saw yet another wisp of smoke on its way to nothingness: a solitary person, completely alone—no children, no family, no friends—yet working obsessively late into the night, compulsively greedy for more and more, never bothering to ask, “Why am I working like a dog, never having any fun? And who cares?” More smoke. A bad business.” – Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 (The Message)
3) You have hope in God
I know this is debatable to people with different beliefs. But I do believe there is a God out there who cares for us. He has said in Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
If you are interested to know more, you can PM me on Facebook or join me in church on the weekend of 19-21 December 2014.
And so this sums up what I think success is. My final thought to you reading this. Ignore all the doubters and haters in your life. Your job today is to be better than the you yesterday.
This post is inspired by Pang Sheng Jun’s blog post How to balance both sports and studies in Singapore. Do read and be inspired!
Check out my photographer friend’s, Adrian Seetho, blog (http://adrianseetho.com/sacrifice/) as he documents in photography and a few words the life of our National Swimmers (i.e.Russell Ong, Pang Sheng Jun and Teo Zhen Ren)
Their grueling training schedule is as such:-
0445 – Wake Up
0500 to 0510 – Wash Up
0530 to 0730 – Training
0800 to 1400 – School
1530 to 2030 – Training
2030 onwards- personal time / post training recovery / dinner / school work 2230 – Sleep (cannot afford to sleep late or have social night out like the rest of us because their bodies really need all the rest they can get)
And they do this, day in day out for 5-7 hours a day 2 times of training a day, 5-6 days a week, clocking an average swim milage of 50-70km a week! Now that makes the 42.195km in the Standard Chartered Marathon feel like a leisure jog in the neighborhood park! It certainly makes my swim training with SIM feel like a leisure swim!
That being said, I have a great deal of respect for their disciplined (and would I say, regimental) adherence to their (insane) training schedule (in particular Pang Sheng Jun is my favourite). No wonder they are the National Swimmers. Being a swimmer myself, I know how easy it is to pick up swimming, yet how difficult it is to truly master swimming. In fact swimming is one of those sports with the highest training demands. It certainly requires a LOT of zeal and passion to stay so devoted to the sport of swimming despite its insane training demands. As it can be seen, zeal for the sport of swimming has consumed them.
Last week my cell group leader shared a message on zeal. What is zeal? It is a passion for something that consumes you so completely that you are willing to forego an additional hour of sleep or even forget to eat. Zeal literally means heat in Greek and is used to describe a very strong emotion such as jealousy or anger.
The Bible has this story to relate concerning Jesus’ zeal for God’s house.
John 2:14-17 NKJV
And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
After sharing on zeal, Ivan told the cell group to discuss in groups of 2 or 3 what is the zeal that consumes us. For me, it would be swimming. I remember I would be frustrated if it rains or something prevents me from swimming. When I was still in SIM, there were only 2 days of training which isn’t enough. So I would do some secret training on my own. All in all, I probably swam 4-5 days a week. So it was a balance between improving my swim strokes and excelling in my studies.
Ivan elaborated on 3 points that Jesus was consumed by zeal for. Jesus was zealous for the worship of God, the spiritual needs of people, and the temple of his new body (he wanted to sacrifice himself for our sins because he loved us – my interpretation).
To end off his message, Ivan ended with the verse that if we seek the kingdom of God first, God will add to us all the things we need. If we build God’s house first, God will also build our house. That being said, when we follow God, there are definitely certain things we must sacrifice. Why do we sacrifice to build the house of God? We don’t do it so we can get a return from God, but when we build the house of God, we are really building lives.
Disclaimer: This will be a long post. I have not shared this from my heart before, and I wish to share my hopes and vision for my vision.
All these Pieces
Broken and Scattered
In Mercy Gathered
Mended and Whole
But not Forsaken
How Sweet the Sound
That Saved a Wretch like Me
I Once was Lost
But Now Am Found
Was Blind But Now I See
Oooooh oh I Can See The Love In Your Eyes …
Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)
I am now listening to this song in camp on my first day of my 4th In Camp Training.
Whilst listening, all sorts of memories of my time in army came rushing back. Army has not been kind to me.
I never considered myself as someone very confident or talented, or someone who has a clear vision of what he wants. Bullied in school before, bullied in the army, a klutz in sports, not talented, that’s how I tend to see myself.
But I always cling to Jeremiah 29:11-14
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord , thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord , and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord , and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
I tend to be extremely contemplative in camp and my time in the army, because this is the time when I am forced to be undistracted by things around me, it is like a spiritual retreat to me. I was listening to Broken Vessels when thoughts about how God’s grace and mercy preserved me through my 2 years of NS. I can feel God’s presence filling my bunk, reminding me of what I had gone through, being bullied by bunk mates, losing a friend who I thought was a friend, feeling all alone and forsaken by God. I can feel God’s presence so tangible in this place, which holds many bittersweet and painful memories for me, I felt like tearing, falling down and worshipping God right in my bunk. Yes, even in a place where most people consider to be spiritually unconducive place, I encountered God there!
Friend, if ever you find yourself forsaken and all alone, remember that even when you are in hell, and going through hell, God is there in the midst of your suffering. God has not forsaken you and will never forsake you.
I remember even when I was feeling forsaken, all alone and feeling like ending it all, God sent many people to speak into my life, including my OC. Even when I walk into a secular shop in the shopping center, suddenly, the store will start playing praise music, proclaiming God’s goodness. In church, God provided good friends to speak into my life. I can’t express my gratitude enough to have a good friend like Bun in my life. I can’t express my gratitude to have a good friend and cell group leader like Ivan in my life. I thank God for N501, for Alvin, and whoever has cared enough to speak into my life.
I remember every ICT, how I really dread going back to camp because I do not wish to see the few black sheep whom always picked on me, and whom I consider as my enemies. But I thank God for the good platoon mates and friends He has placed in my army. I am blessed by them. I thank God for Heng Ju, Elias, Kian Wai, Jeremiah, Bernard and all the good friends who stand by me. Even when I go back, I am somehow protected and left in peace from my enemies. I am reminded of the Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Army broke me, and I almost lost my faith in a God because of that breaking experience. Yet I am reminded of the verse
II Timothy 2:13 NKJV
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Many times I felt like I was nothing, I felt small in the eyes of the world. But yet even I lost my faith, God remained faithful to me. God is still faithful to me. Even when I could not forgive myself, or love myself, the revelation that God loves me even when the world is against me overwhelmed me. When I had the revelation that God chooses the weak and the foolish over those who seemed to be mighty and wise, I regained my faith.
I Corinthians 1:26-29 NKJV
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
Now, 4 years passed since ORD, I have since graduated from SIM with a degree in Business Management, and now well into my second job. I have bounced back from my down moments in my life in army days. I even learned how to swim during my SIM days when I joined the SIM Swimming and Lifesaving club and earned my Bronze Medallion which enables me to be a lifeguard.
What now? What is my next step in life?
Recently I have been asking myself some very hard but important questions. Unlike some very fortunate and lucky people, I did not start out very young in life knowing what I wanted to do my life. But these things I know, whatever I want to do with my life, I do want to use my life to be a blessing and touch lives. I do not want to spend my life not daring to do anything of significance. I want to do something that takes courage and something of significance. I want to be someone significant and not someone people just overlook. I want to be someone that uses as a vessel to bless and touch lives. I do not want to look back on my life when I am old and regret that I did not do this or that, or I did nothing for my community or society. Regret is the most tragic emotion one can experience.
Recently I met a friend I had not met for a year. I was dismayed to learn that up till now after he finished school, he has not find and keep a proper job, not because it is so difficult to find a job, but simply because he quits too easily. He would find a job, work one day and quit on the 2nd day, then complains it is difficult to find a job. He says he wants a simple, 9-6 Admin assistant job, 5 day work week, which is all he aspires to be. Then when he finds it, he still quits.
I do not want to be him. To be a quitter in the face of difficulty and be nothing. My Japanese teacher said this on his first lesson:-
“Learning Japanese will be hard, but do not give up easily. If you give up easily, whatever you do will be a failure. Learn the guitar, give up. Learn piano, give up. Learn anything, give up. In the future, you will be NOTHING. So, when you are young, be willing to learn, so that when you are old you will not be nothing.
The best way to improve is to surround yourself with people who are much more smarter than you, then you will learn from them and be as smart as them. Let me give you an example. I have this dumb and stupid bird that did not know how to sing. But I bought it down to the place where bird owners hanged their bird cages. Eventually, my bird learnt how to sing well”
I do not want to be a quitter.
Very recently I am extremely inspired by Pang Sheng Jun. He is our Singapore home-born National Swimmer. Why am I inspired by him, not Joseph Isaac Schooling who has won more medals? I am not inspired not by Sheng Jun’s talent, but by his story, his attitude, and his work ethic. In his blog (www.pangshengjun.com), he told his story of how he had a severe asthmatic condition and how he would wake up every other night having asthma attacks that did not subside even with the maximum dosage of ventolin (inhaler medicine). The doctor suggested that he took up swimming as it would help with asthma, so he did. He shares how he was afraid of putting his whole body into the water, but with his coach’s encouragement, he improved. He shares his dream of becoming an Olympian swimmer. He shares his story of how in NS, he did not have that much time to train (a typical National swimmer trains 5-6 days a week, 5 hours daily, 10 times a week). In the year of his enlistment, he was supposed to be training for the 2011 SEA Games, and everyone from his mother to army friends to his Encik were expecting him to medal the Games. Thus, he put a lot of pressure on himself, couldn’t sleep the night before and finished last in the competition. Worst of all, his mum was rather disappointed at the result, which sent him into a suicidal mood. Just as he was about throw himself down to end it all, his good buddy Russell Ong (another National swimmer) saw what he was going to do just in time and pulled him back, and advised him against it. Today he has bounced back from the setback. Sheng Jun also shared in his blog how he loves his mum and dad very much as they have always been supportive of him despite the grueling training schedule of a national swimmer. He also shares how his coach told his parents he had potential in swimming and thus the parents put him in the Singapore Sports School (SSS) . He shares how at first he hated the regimental lifestyle of the SSS, how during the teenage years, as he was a late bloomer, he fell behind his peers in swimming as his peers were maturing physically earlier than him and getting faster than him and he simply couldn’t keep up with them. Hence, he shared how he cried to his parents that he did not like the SSS and wanted to quit swimming, but they would allow him to just quit just like this and reminded him of his dream of to be an Olympian swimmer. His setbacks led to formulate the line “Hard Work Pays Off”. Lastly, he also shares how he went to the Church of Singapore and how his mum prayed for him everyday, and how he finally decided to make going to church a weekly affair. I like his story because if even the champions fail, what makes them different from us? Ans: they had a clear vision and the tenacity to chase their dreams. I like his work ethic and his attitude of humility displayed in how he honors his parents and also God in playing a part in his success. These are attitudes I want to have as well. That is why I am inspired by PSJ and not Joseph Schooling because I remember Joseph Schooling saying of his competitors that ‘they can die trying to beat me’. Totally not humble.
Now I would like to share my hopes, vision and fancies. When I was young, I too enjoyed swimming as I went to the Orchid Country Club like almost every week. I too had this dream/fancy I could be one of those elite swimmers I see in competitions, just that I did not have the chance to learn swimming young because my parents were afraid that something would happen to me in the pool. I want to take part in the Singapore National Games 2015 swimming competitions held next year. I want to have the feeling what it is like to take part in a competition. This is, in a large part, inspired by Pang Sheng Jun.
Second, my cell group leader Ivan has been encouraging me to go for SOT, and I have been thinking about it too. Am seriously considering SOT 2015.
Lastly, I am considering applying for the Part Time Swimming Teacher by APS, who knows what it will lead to.
Here ends my post 🙂
I won’t make an attempt to go into extensive details of what I think or the facts I have discovered about the CHC Saga, as apparently there have been extensive array of views written about this one subject already.
When the case first broke out, I firmly believed in the integrity of the CHC leaders as I believed they have portrayed themselves to be upright in character all throughout. It was only when Eng Han broke ranks with the CHC leadership that I have began to have some doubts.
Anyway, to cut long story short, I did search out as many sources as possible. Ronald Wong (former Ps Derek’s zone CGL), CHC Confessions (skipping over the troll posts to find commentators who tried to analyze the case with facts and figures), even going as far to Facebook Chat Eng Han about WHY he left and WHAT he knows. I have screenshot everything that he had told me – 50% of what he told me he told it to the court, the other 50% were much much worst and damning stuff that was not revealed to court or the news outlets. I screenshot comments and things whenever I see someone pull out some facts, figures, apparent knowledge about happenings in the church, and even anecdotes about their experience in CHC. Apparently, it seems there were many old-timers (like since Day One kind of old-timers) posting in CHC confessions who have since left the church.
The truth is, many of the claims on the internet I cannot 100% verify based on no available hard evidence. There was only TWO claims made by CHC detractors that I could verify.
ONE – CHC changed its Statements of Beliefs #17 which states:-
“17. We believe that Government is ordained of God, and the powers that be are ordained as ministers of God to us for good. To resist the powers and the ordinances is to resist the ordinance of God. We are subject not only for wrath sake but for conscience sake, rendering to all their dues, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. We declare our loyalty to our Government and its leaders, and will assist in every way possible, consistent with our faith in the scriptures as Christian citizens (Romans 13).”
to something about marriage between ordained of God. When the online trolls raised a big hooha about it, CHC restored the original Statement of Belief #17. I can verify that because I did check the website and can verify it did happen. This is however not related to the case. But many CHC critics and detractors claim that by changing this part of the Statement of Beliefs relating to government, CHC leaders knew they did something wrong and still want to go against the government, or so this is line of argument and attack.
TWO- It is true that church funds were used to fund the Crossover Project, or Sun’s music career (Pastor Kong Hee himself said so while taking the stand in court), and it is also true that right after the Ronald Poon’s incident, CHC’s press statement did say that ‘no church funds were used’ and this was published on Straits Times in 2003.
I can only verify that these two claims are true. As for their intentions, I cannot judge as I do not have all the facts.
Bottom-line of why I tried to find out facts, I am concerned about my church lah.
Bottom-line of why I am still here, I have found good friends who stood by me, encouraged me, and I still believe that fundamentally the doctrine that is taught to us is fundamentally biblical based and not twisted like what the detractors say.
Furthermore, I do believe that ultimately no man is infallible. If we focus our hearts on Jesus and abide in God’s will, that is what God wants from us.
Lastly, I think many people will ask me what if the CHC leaders are found guilty, CHC can’t pay its obligations concerning the Suntec investment, what will you do?
My Answer: Actually, I also don’t know what I will do. But I believe that the friendships I have formed here are here to stay. At least that few close friends, Bun, Ivan, Alvin, N501, etc …. I believe our friendship is here to stay. But when it happens, then talk about it again. For now, just pray for the best to happen in the best interests of CHC as a whole. Ultimately I do care about CHC and pray that nothing untoward would happen to CHC.
Now that I have blogged my thoughts. I just want to bring closure in my mind about this saga. I don’t wanna think about this saga. Whatever happens, happens. All I can say is, I did find out some things, that’s all.
P.S. If anyone wants to know the contents of the Facebook Chat between Eng Han and me, I am unable to release the contents. Firstly, it would be subjudice to the legal process. Secondly, I don’t want to release those contents either. Even if the trial is over, I do not wish to release it (unless you are really close to me).